originalpinkmountain

Do you have a labor of love?

l pinkmountain
8 days ago

Being able to pursue a labor of love is a very bourgeoisie privilege, I am aware. Of course a labor of love can be really small though, and accessible to anyone who can carve out a tiny bit of time and possibly space. If you're lucky I suppose the work you get paid for is a labor of love. Got to thinking about this because talking to my father last night I realize that his whole life and entire mindset revolves around survival, the things you have to do, and the pursuit of "winning." He's very unhappy in his old age, he has not one single hobby or labor of love. I have inherited the family home and am rehabilitating the property. It's a labor of love for me. He came over last night in a foul mood and was arguing with me for no apparent reason that I should hire someone to do the yard work. Not sure why he said that, he was just in a mood to tear me down so that was what he picked, but to me, working on the yard is a labor of love. I told that to my Dad and he replied with all kinds of reasons I shouldn't be doing it. He says that about anything anyone does for pleasure or enjoys. I on the other hand, love hearing people talk about their passions! That's why I come to these boards!!


What are your labors of love? My main one is gardening and then food preservation and cooking as an aside. I mostly like the preserving and cooking for the having and eating parts, not the doing. Music was my labor of love, but I haven't been able to get to that one in a long, long while. Home decorating is another. That's why i like to tweak tablescapes and holiday decorations, gives me a change to create something inside not necessarily permanent. I have a long list of things I would like to be labors of love, but the ones I have listed are the only ones I have managed to carve out a space for so far in my life. I enjoy writing too, and very occasionally work on my blog or write to friends who I know are home bound during the pandemic.


My husband's labor of love is watching football and other sports. He also likes to be physically active in some type of sport, which is getting more and more difficult with old age. He used to ski but can't after hip replacement surgery. But he often has a hard time finding those things on a regular basis. He always couches things in terms of what he has to do, or what is good for his health, rather than things he enjoys. Except for music and sports, those he can kick back with.

Comments (27)

  • Lukki Irish
    8 days ago

    Our home was a mess when we bought it. We did all the rehab together and it took 6-7 years to finish. We had good times and some not so great times along the way but it’s always been a labor of love. Now that my dear husband is no longer with me, it’s way more than that.

  • woodrose
    8 days ago

    One of mine used to be gardening, but since my back problems have gotten worse I'm not able to do as much as I like. I love sewing, especially hand sewing and embroidery. I have arthritis in my hands and my eyesight has gotten worse, which makes it difficult, but I still try. I've always been a bookworm and I still read everyday.

    I don't understand how some people can go through life without having something they love doing. My MIL was one of those people who seemed to sail along without having a vital interest in anything.

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  • Tina Marie
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    Decorating/caring for our home, working in my plants/flowers, antiquing and spending time with dear friends. I have also come to really enjoy cooking! Good question Pink!

  • Ocotillo
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    Interesting question. I have always thought of a "labor of love" as being something you pour yourself into simply because it brings you joy, and not necessarily because you derive any sort of gain from it. However, the joy derivative IS a gain, so it's hard to drive the distinction, really. If I'm honest, then I really believe that just about everything I do is, in a sense, a labor of love, simply because it's possible to find real contentment and reward in even the seemingly mundane. In years past, I suppose I would have to say that my career was more a means to an end than an actual labor of love, but it has grown more a part of me as time has gone by, particularly in these past few years. And while the tasks that I perform may not bring the greatest satisfaction in and of themselves, I do believe there's a real reward in knowing how they contribute to the overall successes of my team - and that benefits people on a very personal, individual level.

    That may be more of a frou-frou answer than you're really seeking, though.

    I thought gardening was going to become a labor of love, but as my vegetables grown from seed began to croak one by one (well, I still have Swiss chard growing - you can't kill that stuff, it seems), I began to pull back from that endeavor. Physical fitness is a true labor of love for me though. It's labor - definitely, it's labor. It's hard work and it's often unpleasant and sometimes it even hurts - but the payoff has been tremendous, and I find it's a very tangible way that I show love to myself.

    I suppose raising cats is a labor of love too. They don't contribute much to our household besides looking cute and being good to cuddle on occasion, but oh man, I wouldn't want to be without them.

    I also really like to knit. I like keeping my hands busy, and I like creating things that can be used by others to stay warm. Nothing I've ever knitted has been anywhere near high quality, but it's serviceable and it's giftable, and it satisfies me. So that has to count for something.

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    8 days ago

    My definition of "labor of love" is something where you enjoy the process as much as the end product. That's why I put "football' as one of my husband's "labors of love." He enjoys not just watching the games, but the hours and hours of commentary on the games. I find that maddening . . . That's why I wasn't sure if I should put "cooking" on my labors of love list. I LOVE the results, I love eating good food, and entertaining guests with good food, I love the family table as a place not just for food but for conviviality of family and friends. But I could happily delegate the cooking of the food to my own personal chef . . . although I think sometimes I am happy with the whole process, but a lot of times not, particularly the longer more involved ones . . . If I had the money I'd happily become a patron of specialty food shops.

    Lars those jackets made me smile so much! Sewing is one of those things I always wanted to learn, but never was able to pick it up. Sewing was one of my late Mother's labors of love. At one point in time she made almost all of her own clothes. It was sad to see her give it up for a whole variety of reasons. One was her sewing machine broke and she never was able to get it fixed or replaced it.

    Somehow, despite any setbacks, I always seem to enjoy time in the garden. There always seems to be some cool discovery just around the corner, even when things don't go my way. I guess it's because I'm a naturalist and biologist, so even my failures interest me as to their dynamics . . .

    I also learned over the years, to enjoy the laborious part of music. I liked the routine of practice. I also enjoy physical fitness, although the end result is not much in the way of "product" other than myself. Yoga is my favorite form of exercise to enjoy, along with walking and jogging. Weight lifting, for whatever reason, is all labor and no love . . .

  • blfenton
    7 days ago

    I love trail running up single track mountain biking trails in our local mountains and have for years. But I wouldn't call that a productive labour of love that's for sure. It doesn't produce anything. It's just something I love to do. I also love going to the gym and working out in the classes that I've been taking for years and being with the people that I see in the same class week after week and year and after year. Both running and the gym give a rhythm to my life but many would call both of those things a waste of time and silly.

  • Sheeisback_GW
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    Being a mom and all that it involves. Our home. Taking care of my plants. Applying my daily makeup. When I get to work on a project. Uninterrupted is best but almost nonexistent at this point in life. Anything from organizing something to photo editing to stripping and staining a desk.

  • 2katz4me
    7 days ago

    Since I retired last year I've become a "homemaker" for the first time in my life. I never thought about this as a labor of love but since you posed the question I see that it is. I always had a demanding career, traveled a lot for work and DH did too. We had a wonderful but very different lifestyle than we do now. He now owns his own business and doesn't travel and I'm home. It's such a luxury and joy to have all this time to do things around the house that others probably have forever considered "chores". I have two lovely homes and enjoy caring for them and DH - now that I have time.

  • Springroz
    7 days ago

    My horses are my labor of love. They are my life’s work. I am in the 3rd generation of my breeding program, although with economy the way it is, and my reluctance to entertain every Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to come kick proverbial tires, the breeding has stopped. (Although, I am expecting 2 colts next summer.....)

  • 1929Spanish-GW
    7 days ago

    Driving dogs for rescue is my labor of love. I’ve transported 18 dogs this year acting as the second leg of a journey to their new life. We only spend a half hour together and it takes about an hour and a half of my time. I’m so thankful I can be part of their journey.

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    These stories are so cool! I would hardly say that working on yourself for health and fitness is either unproductive or a waste of time. That was basically the thought that led to my making this post. IMHO, too many people pass off "labors of love" i.e. things you do because you love the outcomes, you love the process but you're not doing it for money or pure survival, as "wastes of time." That's the attitude my Dad has, and now that he is retired from paid work, old and infirm, he is miserable. He's not making money so he considers himself "irrelevant" and that his days are nothing more than big wastes. I cannot get him to pick up any hobby, even listening to books on tape . . . and helping others doesn't count in his book. Supervising or bossing other people around does, but few of the adults in his circle want to engage him for long periods of time. My mother on the other hand, who died five years ago, would happily read away the pandemic, and communicate with her network of friends, happy for others to go out and shop for her or do mail order. She was an introvert. My husband and I are quite content with our labors of love too. This is why I think it is important to cultivate such things. Once you have the basics down of survival for yourself, you need something with which to engage your time and energy. A love. My late mother's was books, including volunteering as a literacy tutor, and belonging to book clubs. I can't even get my Dad engaged in book charity activities. Or any charity activities . . .

    It's so inspiring to hear how everyone engages with something they love!!

  • party_music50
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    Basketry willow... growing / weeding all summer and then harvesting it in the bitter cold, when it's dormant. Bundling it for drying and storage. Then to make a basket: sorting/selecting the required withies, and preparing it all for weaving (a full week). And actually weaving with willow takes all my strength! But I love it. Nothing smells or feels like it. Definitely a labor of love.



    ETA, and gardening, of course! lol!

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    PM I did not realize you GREW the willow too!! Do you have like a "willow plot?" Years ago I did a research paper on agricultural products that came from wetlands, and basket willows were big on the list. But they are not the ones that grow wild here in the US, it's the European cultivar. That's why I'm curious how you grow it. Back in the olden days folks just went out to the wilds and gathered it, but now such places are more rare. But maybe you have a wild spot nearby??

  • party_music50
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    Not wild, lpink. Though this area of NY was supposedly a center for basketry willow in the 1800s. Willow and hops. lol!


    I started in 2010 by ordering 4 different basketry willow varieties from one of the few suppliers in the US. I didn't have a clue what I was doing at the time and had to teach myself everything from what little I could find in books or on the net. Here's my crop this year -- photo taken July 16. I coppice it every year.... the tallest will grow 7'-8' tall easily in one year.



  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    I would never be able to become a basket weaver . . . I tried, I'm just not spatially oriented enough. But I can dream of growing basketry supplies. That was what I researched, the varieties of basket weaving plants, and their cultivation . . . kinda sad that such an easy and renewable resources with so much utility has gone out of fashion . . . of course it's labor intensive to process but . .. that creates jobs . . .

  • 1929Spanish-GW
    7 days ago

    Pink - I’m like your dad only in that my professional work has always been the dominant force in my life. As a kid my favorite pretend game was “work”. I would get my moms briefcase and set up a desk with papers and “work”. In my early career, my chosen job was rather low-paid, so four months out of the year I would work what was essentially a second full time job in retail. Over the two month holiday period, I qualified for benefits and holiday pay from two organizations.

    I also have many interests, but prioritize work for many reasons.

    Fast forward to now - when I’m still at least a decade away from retirement - and I have been out of work for longer than planned. It’s incredibly unsettling. Right or wrong, some people are just wired differently. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to take it out on others and certainly there are other things involved in your situation. I just wanted to share another side.


  • bbstx
    7 days ago

    OMG, 1929S, are you my child? I cut back on my volunteer activities when I came upon my daughter one day in my suit jacket, my heels, and carrying my briefcase. When I asked where she was going, she said “to a meeting.” 🙄

  • 1929Spanish-GW
    7 days ago

    @bbsx my mom thought it was weird too. But I like my work better than she liked hers. I didn't play a lot of "house" or "mommy" and never had kids but do have a weekly housekeeper.

  • bbstx
    7 days ago

    Funny, because DD did not follow in my footsteps. She is the quintessential “mom.” She doesn’t work outside the home, although she has a professional degree. She has 3 under 4 and loves every minute of it.


    I am one of those who needed work to affirm my worth.


    To me, a “labor of love” is doing something I really hate but doing it anyway because it is important to someone I love. I know that is not the common definition, but it is mine. For example, I made a Roman shade for DD’s front door (last house). It is something I‘m capable of doing, but I did not enjoy doing. (Please ignore cords to the left. The shade was being “trained” and I had not finished off the cords yet.)




  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    Well I'm not implying that loving work you get paid for is not a labor of love. In fact, if you are lucky, you get paid to do what you love. And even if you get paid to do what you love, some parts of it are not fun or "lovely." I think there are some people who learn to love their work, or even if they hate their work, recognize its value. I'm thinking of folks like coal miners who surely had tough difficult lives, but also took pride in doing such essential work. Same with some farmers I knew. They often had trouble (and still do) have trouble making enough money to live off of, but they still love the doing of it. My best friend's father was like that, he could never give up farming, partly due to economics, but mostly due to the way it defined him. He would never say he loved it, it was back breaking and even life threatening at times, he had to do it, but it definitely was work he always saw himself doing. My friend doesn't farm due to family politics and economics, but she misses its defining role in her life, along with some of the actual work that she did on the farm as a kid. Also folks who hate their work, have to endure it, are sometimes able to carve out time for something they love in their spare time. I think that sort of defines a lot of the reasons some folks got into blues or country music, it was something accessible to them even in relatively meager life circumstances.

    My father's issue is a separate thing. Even when I was working and doing what I loved, he was constantly belittling me either that I was "working too much" or often that I wasn't making enough money. He often belittles other people's loves that they spend time on, such as friend's devotion to their church or a hobby that he's not interested in. A friend from our church is part of a group that knits "comfort blankets" for folks and she gave my Dad a blanket and all he does is complain that she's not that close of a friend and he doesn't like the color. It would be fine if it was just the one thing, but that's his response to everything. We are used to it but it is still tragic. Nothing can be done, he's 89 and if we could have done something about his depression we would have more than a decade ago . . .

    I contrast that with my uncle, who is 94 and had a stroke last year so had to go to assisted living. He has lost so much, including my aunt his wife of over 70 years, and yet he still engages with his poetry, which has been his labor of love. He writes it and still participates virtually in his poetry group. I read a book once by happiness researcher Mihály Csikszentmihály, which he coined the term "flow" which is when you are engaged in an activity that makes you feel like you are part of something larger than yourself and the activity "flows" in the sense that it has a lot of positive feedback loops. They are not necessarily big happiness jolts of adrenaline, more like a sense of contentment.

  • 1929Spanish-GW
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    Pink - I hope my sharing of a different perspective did not offend, my intention was to share rather than to negate your statements.

  • l pinkmountain
    Original Author
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    No, actually it was cool. I loved the variety of what people "love." I even loved the idea of loving getting dolled up with a suit and briefcase as part of the joy of going to work. My late mother left behind a whole closet of fine and lovely "power suits" and accessories from her working days. Kind of makes me sad that so few dress that way at work anymore. Certainly not me anymore. Even in my college teaching days, since I worked also outside at the Arboretum, I ruined more shoes trying to go from mud soaked trail to formal classroom . . .

    As a side note, there are so many retro shows nowdays paying homage to the days when one "dressed" to go to any type of even outside the home or in the company of others . . . (I'm thinking Mrs. Maisel and Queen's Gambit right off the top of my head). I remember being so in awe of my mother getting ready to "go out' when I was a kid, all the mysterious and fabulous bits and bobs in her dressing table. I still have the table, although I would like to pass it on to someone younger. I use it to store linens in now, with candlesticks and table centerpieces on the top to be reflected by the mirror. All the things I don't use anymore . . . along with the jewelry and scarves and nice gloves . . .

  • 2katz4me
    5 days ago

    Spanish - you sound a lot like me pre-retirement. I loved my work/career and spent most of my waking hours on it for over 30 years - no kids which made it easier for me to do so. Life evolves with age though and I now love the luxury of time to take care of our homes and DH. Much as paid work was my life for so long, I have happily moved on.

  • 1929Spanish-GW
    5 days ago

    2Katz- I've got 10-12 years to go, more the longer I'm without work. But this has been a good experience challenging the impression that I have enough suppressed interests to make retirement easy.

    Of course, mentally I haven't allowed myself to totally relax, so that carries a huge impact. But I've also learned that I'll need a little more structure than anticipated to enjoy life post work.

  • Bethpen
    5 days ago

    I've just popped in but thought I'd share what has been a labor of love for me. I started volunteering at a local donkey rescue. A woman pulls them from kill pens in Texas and they bring them up the East Coast. The little rescue I volunteer at gets them well, showers them with love, and teaches them how to be in a herd. I've learned so much and have had life changing moments just sitting with them. DH and DD are both working from home and it was nice to have that little bit of time with the Donkeys before I got home this Summer. My work is busy now so I usually only go on the weekends. Last week I raked leaves there because one of the donkeys is allergic to the maple leaves. If DH finds out he'll have me out back with a rake in a heartbeat, I've been claiming back injury. :)


    I don't check in often and post less, but I feel like all of you are friends. I love reading about your lives. XO

  • Tina Marie
    5 days ago

    Bethpen, how cool!!! I love donkeys, especially the minis. ❤️

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